Hip dysplasia OFA certification scheme

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Introduction

  • Hip dysplasia is a common and often debilitating orthopedic disease affecting many larger breed dogs.
Signs
  • Hindend weakness and lameness in severely affected young dogs.
  • The majority of affected dogs appear normal when young but develop clinical signs in middle and older age as secondary osteoarthritis arises.
  • Overt lameness occurs if one hip is more severely affected than the other but many dogs have similar arthritic changes in both hips leading to general stiffness which may pass unnoticed by the owner, even though the dog may be in continuous discomfort.
  • Dogs may exibit a bunny-hopping gait and often resist joint flexion/extension maneuvers performed by clinicians.
Cause
  • Multifactorial condition with many genetic factors and poorly understood environmental factors.
  • The underlying cause is a laxity of the soft tissues supporting the hip joint.
  • Occurs from a very young age in affected dogs, when the bones are still partly cartilaginous and therefore soft.
  • Instead of ossifying into a normal well-fitting ball-and-socket conformation, the femoral head and acetabulum form a shallow and much less congruous articulation.
  • Stresses to which the soft tissue components of the joint are subjected provoke the formation of arthritic new bone and further remodeling occurs.
  • The process becomes a vicious circle, exacerbated by obesity and over-exercise.

    Excessive exercise on hard surfaces may exacerbate the condition but exercise such as physical therapy in water may actually improve the condition of dogs by avoiding concussive forces on the cartilage/bone while stimulating muscle strength and soft tissue support of the joint.
Control
  • Selective breeding, ie breeding from less-affected individuals.
  • Various hip dysplasia scoring schemes provide the means for this by allowing assessment of radiographs of dogs' hips under a standard protocol.

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